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Recruiting and Hiring

It is essential that community health workers (CHWs) have a strong understanding of and connection to the community they serve. Often, CHWs are recruited from the target population and then trained. CHWs may be recruited through formal or informal networks.

Another important factor in recruiting community health workers (CHWs) revolves around how a CHW will fit into an organization. A program's scope and community needs will also drive CHW recruitment strategies. Reimbursement and logistical options to consider during recruitment include:

  • Paid employee, via stipend, salary or hourly wages
  • Volunteer
  • Volunteer with stipend
  • Full- or part-time
  • Seasonal (especially for CHWs serving migrant communities) or year-round

When recruiting CHWs — especially for volunteer positions — organizations must clearly communicate job expectations, time commitments, required travel, and compensation, if any.

During the hiring process, it is important to ensure CHWs are involved with and knowledgeable about the communities they will serve, and typically have specific skills and qualities deemed essential by the program. Recruitment approaches include:

  • Radio and television programming
  • Websites and social media such as Facebook and Twitter
  • Newspapers
  • Church and other community groups
  • Community meetings
  • Recreational centers
  • Local colleges and universities
  • Schools (e.g., parent-teacher organizations)
  • Social events such as dances, fairs, and sporting events
  • Worksite and community fliers
  • Word of mouth
  • Referrals from current CHWs
  • Internal recruitment within the organization

The Community Preventive Services Task Force indicated that more information is needed about CHW recruitment, including selection criteria and matching characteristics, as well as optimal methods for training, supervising, and evaluating the performance of CHWs.

For additional information regarding staff recruitment and retention for rural programs, see Implementation Considerations in the Rural Community Health Toolkit.

Resources to Learn More

Recruitment of Community Health Workers
Describes how community health worker programs can develop appropriate recruitment policies and improve their attrition rates based on the community’s needs, benefitting both the community and CHWs.
Author(s): Jaskiewicz, W. & Deussom, R.
Date: 9/2013